(Biomedical Science BSc, 2021)“I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all the generous alumni who have donated to support refugee and asylum seeker students. Your contributions have enabled students like me to pursue Higher Education and provided invaluable opportunities to overcome the challenges we faced during our formative years.”
Can you share your story about your journey into Higher Education?
In April 2005, my family and I fled Lagos, Nigeria, and arrived in the United Kingdom seeking asylum. We sought refuge from members of my father's family who disapproved of my mother and intended to perform female genital mutilation (FGM) on my sisters. Our asylum process was complicated.
We were moved between hostels throughout England, causing me to miss six months of school. Eventually, we settled in Middlesbrough where I applied to attend a local school. When my mother was hospitalised, I cared for my siblings which led to temporary foster care until my mother recovered.
Despite these hardships, I excelled academically, earning good GCSEs and was appointed as a school prefect within three months. I attended college to study science subjects, aiming to become a doctor.
At 17, I faced potential deportation but followed my lawyer's advice and sought help from my school, church, friends, and my Middlesbrough MP to write a letter to the Home Office. Despite these challenges, I persevered and achieved my A Level results which laid the foundation for me to pursue Higher Education. Why did you choose to study at Queen Mary?
I chose Queen Mary for several reasons. As an aspiring dentist, I pursued an apprenticeship at King's College Hospital after moving from Middlesbrough aged 19. While seeking scholarship opportunities for asylum seekers/refugees, I discovered the Student Action for Refugees website, which led me to research five universities, including one Russell Group institution known for its strong support system.
Among the universities I applied to, Queen Mary stood out as the only one that offered assistance throughout my application process. Their advice and counselling service played a crucial role in securing a scholarship. The award helped not only me, but also inspired my siblings to pursue Higher Education. What challenges did you face whilst studying due to your refugee status?
I faced numerous challenges during my studies. One of the primary obstacles was securing accommodation. I had to pay high fees for student housing as I had no connections to find a roommate.
Supporting my family financially was another significant challenge which limited my ability to participate in social activities with friends. The pressure to maintain my visa status and the £2,000 cost of visa renewal for both me and my family members added to my financial burden. I took up a part-time job to make ends meet.
Thanks to additional financial support from Queen Mary, I could concentrate more on my academic pursuits, alleviate the stress associated with visa renewals, and experience a more balanced university life without worrying about finances. Can you tell me more about your journey from student to ambassador, and now your role at Queen Mary?
I have helped three students in similar circumstances begin their university journey by reviewing their UCAS and scholarship applications. I also educated my sixth form about the process to ensure they can support others facing similar challenges.
As a student ambassador for Queen Mary, I participated in Higher Education fairs, where I sought to inform career teams about assisting students in situations like mine. I firmly believe that everyone should have access to Higher Education opportunities in the UK. My contributions and the feedback from schools, fellow ambassadors, and staff led me to become a senior student ambassador, eventually resulting in my current role as Student Projects and Campaigns Assistant. What would you say to supporters and alumni who have donated to help students like yourself?
I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all the generous alumni who have donated to support refugee and asylum seeker students. Your contributions have enabled students like me to pursue Higher Education and provided invaluable opportunities to overcome the challenges we faced during our formative years.
Thanks to your kindness, we have embarked on a transformative journey in the university, opening doors to brighter futures and empowering us to impact society positively.
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If you would like to get in touch with David or engage him in your work, please contact the Alumni Engagement team at email@example.com.